The podcast is in its infancy as a means of social criticism. NPR may make all of their programs available for download, but the podcast qua podcast is just starting to break ground as a stand-alone medium. Marc Maron, appearing tomorrow at Great Scott, is a master of this incipient form. Part Bob Woodward, part James Lipton, Maron wows listeners twice a week with his podcast, WTF.
Maron, a well-established stand-up and former Air America radio host, interviews a comedian each episode. These hour-long conversations provide entry into the closed, weird world of comedy -- drug use, AA meetings, relapses, petty rivalries, cliques, more relapses -- that should be required listening for anyone interested in laughter, showbiz, or substance abuse. His conversations with contemporaries like Bob Odenkirk and David Wain shed light on the work habits of comic gods among men, but his chats with everyone else make him the best of his kind (listen to Maron's interview with Dane Cook for a crash course in calling someone an asshole without coming out and saying it).
It is Maron's two-part interview with Carlos "Menstealia" Mencia that puts WTF in a category unto itself. Maron demonstrates his reverence for comedy as an art form by speaking with Mencia, a notorious joke thief, about his reputation. Maron then speaks to those with concrete accusations against Mencia, then confronts Mencia himself with these allegations. This is among the most uncomfortable listening experiences ever recorded, a raw and terrifying glimpse into pathos and power lust. Oh, and have I mentioned it's funny?
Marc Maron | July 22 at Great Scott, Allston | $10